Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas

What a wonderful day we had.
Everyone was home Christmas Eve - but it's something we realized is a little harder to handle than we thought necessary - mostly for the grandchildren.  After a wonderful dinner and the playing of some games by the adults, I was tired trying to put poor Madison down to bed in a strange house for her.  She ended up having to cry herself to sleep.  None of us got to sleep until past 1:00 a.m..
Christmas morning was so fun watching the kids open their presents.  Preston got cars, computer things, books and a fish...yes, a fish, which he named Buzz Lightyear.  Madison got stuffed animals, a doll and some clothes - as adults, we had decided to exchange names this year, so Kylie had mine and got me a BYU sweatshirt - and I had hers and got her a soft sweater.  Everyone was kind and generous.  Del and I didn't give each other gifts this year, except he did give me a $100 bill to spend on whatever of my choosing - and I did write him a Christmas letter full of love and promises for this coming year.

As a family, we started a new tradition - 'CHANGE a Life' jars - where every day, we save all of our change/coins and put it in our individual jars, which I made for each person.  Then, next year, the day before Christmas Eve, we will join all of our jars together, take the money to the bank and have it counted and then Christmas Eve, we will deliver it to whom we find the Lord wants us to give it.  We are pretty excited about it and the opportunity to think outside of our own little lives and more about the bigger picture.
Kylie is the only one who took pictures of our various activities, so as soon as she gets them to me, I will post some of them here to share.  Great memories.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Last Minute Preparations

Santa's elves are busy busy busy on this day before Christmas.
Del and I have decided to start some new family traditions, of which I am getting ready for tomorrow.  I am hoping our children will like them and be as excited as we are about them.
Tonight, Mike and Kylie will come over and we will have a family dinner.  We will then play some games and set up the front room for Mike and Kylie's family to spend the night.  We should have lots of fun with goodies and a fire in the fire place.  Tomorrow will be the opening of gifts, relaxing during the day and then a big turkey dinner tomorrow night.
Busy busy busy are Santa's elves.

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's Time to Set Up Christmas

Chutes and Ladders was the new game of the day.

Madi ran from room to room with her new independence of walking.

The Crump Family

Once all the adults left, the kids played by their own rules.

Just like when they were little.

Madi helped Nana in the kitchen.

Loading the dishwasher.

Preston knew where he wanted branches placed.

But Madi had her own ideas where branches were to be placed.

Adult supervision arrives.

She loves her electronics!!

Madi finds Papa on his phone underneath the tree.

Kylie ends up underneath the tree too.

With Christmas music playing throughout the house, Nana thought it was time to dance.

All tangled up.

Time to play with Uncle Joe.

Preston has Uncle Joe pinned.

Jordan and Lexi helped with the tree ornaments.

No family get together ends without Preston and Papa's famous smoothies!!!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

In the Words of Buddha

There are probably one or two more things to be added to Buddha's list of three...BUT - I do like the three he has.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bliss Christmas Party

We have a great staff.  I love working at Bliss Orthodontics, especially with Dr. Henao.  She's wonderful and kind and the best orthodontist I know.
For our end of the year celebration and office Christmas Party, she took all of us to Maggiano's, a very nice Italian restaurant.  And it was yummy.
She gave each of girls a lovely gift, and we all chipped in together and got her a beautiful mother's necklace from Kay's Jewelry - it has her birthstone on top, and then the birthstone of each of her three sons.  It was pretty.
The food was great - the company was great - and the future looks hopeful and bright for Bliss Orthodontics!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

It Would Be 29 Years Ago Today

It was on a Sunday, just like today, 29 years ago, Michael passed away.
Went to the Stake Christmas program tonight and was fine until the song Away in a Manger was sung.
Then I lost it...
Haven't cried in years on December 15th.
Thank heavens I'll be fine tomorrow.

Jean Sunderland Belangie

My mother has only one sibling, a sister.  My Aunt Jean.  She is older than my mother, by like two years, I think.  When my mother came over to the United States from England, it was after she and her sister and parents had all been baptized into the church.  The rest of the family came a few years later.
My Aunt Jean married a man named John Sunderland, who was also from England.  For this reason, she kept her British accent, of which we ALL loved.  I wished for the longest time that my mother still had her British accent instead of only the occasional British word or phrase that she would share with us.  I loved listening to Aunt Jean.
But I didn't know her well, or the four (?) cousins that I had from her - Chris, Melanie, Peter and I think there was one more boy...but can I remember his name of even if there was one more?  No.
See, Aunt Jean didn't remain active in the church and neither did her children.  For this reason, my mother really found herself with not very much in common anymore with her sister and so we didn't see them much or get to know them very well at all.  I would have thought that the mere fact that they were sisters, would have kept my mother interested in the life of her own sister.  But you now what?  Now that I find my self in my own situation with my siblings, I can understand the lack of interest in the lives of some of them.  I understand all too well.
The few times that I DID see Aunt Jean, I really liked her.  I learned that she loved to water color paint and I showed a lot of interest in some of her work.  Because of that, I have the painting up above that hangs in one of my bathrooms in my new home.  It's beautiful.  And I'm grateful that she painted it for me.
She and I used to exchange Christmas letters too until just recently.  I'm not sure why we ever stopped, but e did.
Last week, my mother, along with my cousin Chris, went to see Aunt Jean in Washington, as she was in poor health.  My mother said she had a wonderful visit with her and that Aunt Jean was actually able to recognize my mother as her sister, even though they had not seen each other in years.  Friday, my Aunt Jean passed away, days after my mother had returned home.
Although Aunt Jean had been inactive in the church, she was still such a good and interesting person and had done so much in her life for so many people.  I would have loved to have had the opportunity to talk to her at length to hear HER life story - She would have been fascinating to listen to and know better.
My mother has lost her husband and only sibling this year.  I imagine that to be fairly difficult.
Rest in Peace Aunt Jean....and be ready to tell me all about you when we see each other again.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Unexpected U-Turn

And I have over 30 yrs experience driving in this!!!
But that made no difference as I attempted to go to work this morning.  And I even left later so as to give the warmth of 34' time to thaw out the streets a little.  But nothing prevented the unexpected u-turn I found myself in when I hit a patch of ice. I had been following the path made by all previous cars, but my car is low enough to the ground that I found ice hitting the underside of the car and shooting me out onto the snow.  The final time sent the car into a 180' degree turn facing back the way I had just come from.
I decided I would take the direction the car was in and go back home, shaking from the experience.
The office was closed due to school closures and the dr's kids being home.  We had already called and cancelled all the patients - I was just going in for the hours...almost $200 worth of hours.
But you know what?
It's not worth safety.
Kathryn flies in tonight.  Kylie will pick her up from the airport because she lives right there, and then Kathryn will drive the van home that we left at Kylie's at the beginning of the week.  Prayers will be happening the whole trip until she is home safe.
I guess I'll try this all again tomorrow and hope for a better result.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

And Life Came to a Standstill

Winter Wonderland in our backyard.

At first glance, you would think this was a snow storm - snow is only on the top.  Underneath is about 3-4 inches of pure, treacherous and deadly ICE.

Paul Bunyun, alias, the Bishop, was kept plenty busy with cutting us firewood.

A constant fire in the fireplace kept us warm and added ambiance to the memory.

Usually reserved for General Conference weekend, I broke tradition and made homemade cinnamon rolls for Sunday breakfast.  Kathryn called from Utah and made me promise to save her at LEAST two.
It started last Thursday, on the 5th.
I had an all day orthodontic Seminar in Dallas and car pooled with our receptionist, Bryleigh.  I decided to drive, since I am much more experienced in driving in snow and ice, which was expected to come down by the time we came out of the Seminar, than she was.  She's only 23 years old and has driven in snow once.
But even as experienced as I am over my 37 years of driving, it still took us over 2 hours to travel the 47 mile trip.  It was deadly.
I got home and we spent the rest of the evening watching the news - both the local and National news had OUR weather situation on the t.v.  I had so many commitments over the weekend - Friday was supposed to be another half day at the Seminar, then a Relief Society Pres. Mtg for the following two hours, then back to Mike and Kylie's to babysit for the evening.
Friday morning arrived with the roads and freeways covered in layers and layers of ice.  Schools throughout the Metroplex were closed, roads were closed and the airport was shut down.  I was going no where.  Everything got cancelled - and then the same thing happened for Saturday, another day that I had packed with previous commitments.  Del, as Bishop, counseled with his counselors, and after some discussion, concluded that the Ward Christmas party had to be cancelled for that evening. Disappointing.  At the same time, a mass email went out from our stake president informing the stake members that all church meetings would be cancelled for Sunday throughout the stake.  Kathryn was supposed to fly home from Utah Saturday afternoon, but the airlines called informing us her flight had been cancelled and she would be coming home Monday instead.  I called her with the news, and she was thrilled to have two more days with her dear friend Rachel.
That takes me to today....
The weekend has been spent at home, in and under the protection of my home.  There are thousands and thousands without power.  There were many who were stranded for over 32 hours on the freeway that I take to get to work every day.  The freeway has since been shut down.  During that shut down, a man in a car/truck, tried to pass another on the Lake Lewisville bridge, plunging into the lake below  He later died.  My sister Elaine and her husband have many neighbors and ward members who are without power, so for two days, they have been offering food and shelter for any who have no place to eat or be warm.  They have several ward members doing the same thing.
We have had several phone calls going back and forth to ward members making sure that each ward member is safe and taken care of.  We have no power outages over here, but there is no leaving of homes either, so we needed to make sure everyone had food and warmth.  Del did leave the house yesterday to go to the store two miles away for a few things.  He didn't return for two hours.  I was worried, but knew he was a very experienced driver.  But even he said the roads were deadly.  We have stayed home the rest of the time.
The pictures tell our weekend story.  We have had a continual fire in the fireplace, played games, watched BYU basketball, football, had yummy food, including homemade cinnamon rolls I made this morning, and listened to Josh Groban Christmas music.  Today has been spent having a great family conversation with Jordan and Lexi, watching The Spoken Word and reading scriptures.  It has been most peaceful - I have missed the time I was supposed to be with the grandchildren, but it's been nice to hear from Kylie about all the one on one time she and Mike have been spending with the kids - reading, playing, putting up their tree...etc...etc.  They have had their own sweet time to take advantage of being 'shut in' with their kids.
I will be anxious to see what tomorrow brings.  Part of the freeway I travel to work on is still closed.  I may have to go a completely different and longer way to work.  And then, there is Kathryn to pick up from the airport IF her flight does not get cancelled again.  We'll wait and see.
So, life came to a standstill this weekend.  It went from probably one of the busiest planned weekends in December, to a mandated, yet much appreciated, standstill.
The Lord likes to slow things up a little during this busy time of year, doesn't He?
I hope there have not been many that have had to suffer too much, although, the news has told of four deaths of homeless people - and then, of course, the man on the freeway.  Slow down people.  Be safe - and don't go out if you don't have to.  Stay home, with your families.
Enjoy the standstill.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Time to Shift Gears

Today, I was released from the Primary Presidency and called as first counselor in the new Relief Society Presidency.  Our sweet RS President, Wendy Turner, is moving with her family to southern Texas.  So she, and her counselors were released today, after serving for three years.
One of the sweet ladies I visit teach, Maritza Bailey, from Chile, has been called as our new Relief Society President.  She is adorable - sweet, kind, tender, tiny and just fragile.  I love her.  And the second counselor is Alana Wright - a friend I have made since moving here - a widow of 2 years with three children.  Her son Andrew is the one that came and stayed with a few days when he was having a few difficult moments in his life.  He mowed our lawn during the summer.  Alana is still single but currently hoping and wishing to re-marry and enjoy some more of her very young life.
I am going to love serving with these ladies.  Our desire is to bring spiritual comfort and depth to the women in the ward with much love and kindness.  In my setting apart by the Bishop, he stressed 4 times, that I counted, my need to be kind - tender - soft and keep my sense of humor, but not to replace spirituality with humor.  He knows me well.  So I will have to be aware of the promptings of the spirit in reaching the hearts of the sisters.
So, a new phase of my life and a new opportunity to serve.
I haven't been in the Relief Society in literally decades.
This will be interesting as I adjust my thought processes from children to adults and change my approach of gospel teaching.  I can actually use some adult vocabulary and maybe even be able to learn new and exciting principles of the gospel myself.

We Met Our Turkey Quota

We spent a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner over at my sister Elaine's home.  We had a turkey in the oven here at home because we planned on canning turkey over the weekend.  We asked Elaine if we could bring home her turkey carcase and she let us, so we cooked it down that night and made a really nice broth.  Friday we cooked another turkey and then Saturday, we cooked yet, our 4th turkey.  And then the fun began.
Del had invited the Mains family - David, Nann, Lilly and baby Lucy over to help us do our canning, as they had shown some interest in learning how to do the whole procedure.  I had precut many of the vegetables for the turkey soup we would be making, and then they helped us debone the turkey's and then stuff the jars.  Of course, during all of this, we had wonderful conversation and got to know them just a little bit better.  
To remind you, they are the family that lost their two year old son the 2 days before Del was called as Bishop, and his first act as Bishop was to preside over the funeral of their sweet little Lockland.  So a bit of our conversation was about how they are doing at this stage, a year after, and what they can expect over the years to come.  We too, celebrate the anniversary of the passing of our sweet Michel this year.  I could only assure her that things get better over time - and the memories eventually become very sweet and tender.  They both felt very hopeful.
But what a great experience we had with their family..
Good, good people.